sent by Nick Grantham | 1st December 2020
I've sifted through thousands of CV's, interviewed hundreds of aspiring strength and conditioning coaches and sports scientists and had the pleasure of calling a chosen few to offer them the opportunity they were chasing. I've even written a book about it! I can safely say that when I put the call into a successful candidate, the thing that has always swung a tight decision between two applicants, is not their qualification, it's always been the individual's personality and attitude. Qualifications will help you get your foot in the door, your personality and attitude will allow you to walk on through.
The next time you watch your athletes training or observe your colleagues behaviour during a meeting, try not to assume that what you're seeing is an accurate representation of their normal behaviour. When we observe behaviour there are several factors that can influence our interpretation. Just being in the same room as another person has the potential to influence their behaviour. Don't believe me? Are you always on your best behaviour when you know no one is watching? We can also see a slightly different reality because of our own biases or past experience. We may only pick up on things we expect to see based on how an athlete behaved in their last training session. Another issue linked with observer bias is that we are only observing a snapshot of that person's behaviour. We may not be fully aware of what preceded or motivated them to act in such a way. We are only seeing the outcome without the all-important additional context. If you work with any team there are some simple things to consider: 1. If you're in the room the chances are you're influencing behaviour. Whilst this can help change behaviour if you want to get a better feel for how someone really behaves, see if you can watch them without them knowing (not in a creepy way though!). 2. Be aware of your baggage when observing someone and try not to let it cloud your judgement. 3. Take some time to understand the bigger picture and context of other's lives before you jump to conclusions. Observing things changes them. We all change our actions when we expect to be seen or know we are being watched
Source: Farnham Street Newsletter
Blocked practice (learning procedures and information through repetition) is appealing and can lead to quick results. However, mixed practice, also know as interleaving (learning under flexible conditions), whilst more tricky at first can lead to better results in the long term. Modern sport, society and business is increasingly chaotic and constantly evolving. Learning facts, figures and skills through simple repetition may be useful, but interleaving holds the key to long term success. There's often a perception of early learning or even a 'head start' as a result of a more traditional blocked approach to learning but any early advantage that we think exists fades out with time. If we want to develop ourselves, the athletes, colleagues or students we work with to be knowledgeable with outstanding physical and mental skills, but more importantly who can match the right strategy to an ever-changing range of problems, we need to develop flexible knowledge and skills. It doesn't matter if the task is mental or physical, building in some desirable difficulty (a concept developed by ?Robert Bjork) into the learning process is going to help. Deep learning can be slow, but it sticks around for longer too!?
Source: Range by David Epstein
Blowing the Bloody Doors Off by Michael Caine is one of my best-loved books, not just because he's one of my favourite actors but because the book is littered with so many pearls of wisdom that can be applied to a wide range of situations. In chapter 4 Caine talks about the importance of learning your craft and the importance of preparation. When we observe anyone at the top of their game, whether they are athletes, coaches, business owners, artists or performers they make their 'performance' seem effortless. It's not because they have some special talent that they were blessed with from birth (a convenient excuse we like to tell ourselves to disguise the fact that they are bloody hard workers). In every case, there will have been a significant amount of preparation taking place behind the scenes. My best coaching sessions are the ones that I've planned properly. My best conference presentations have always been the ones where I've taken the time to really work on my delivery. My best performances in an adventure race have come about after significant planning. If you are not happy with your level of performance, maybe it's time to look at the time (or lack of it) that has gone into your preparation. As Michael says "you should be so familiar with what you're doing that it seems effortless."
Source: Blowing the Bloody Doors Off by Michael Caine
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